Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents settled in at Pimlico Race Course May 7 after arriving in the middle of the night from Churchill Downs.
The Into Mischief colt didn't run well in the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), finishing 17th on the sloppy, sealed track, but trainer Doug O'Neill decided to follow the plan that worked so well last year with 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another and shipped the colt to Pimlico early to prepare for the Preakness.
Maryland Jockey Club officials approved O'Neill's request to have his Derby horse and 10 other runners occupy Barn D, the same place I'll Have Another stayed in 2012.
"The horse is doing fantastic," assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said in a release. "He ate up everything last night. We just walked him this morning and his energy level is high. He's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and we're happy to see that in him."
Goldencents, owned by a partnership group that includes W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney, and University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino's RAP Racing, flew from Louisville to New York the afternoon of May 6 and was sent by van to Baltimore. He arrived at 1:30 a.m.
"That was a little later than expected," Sisterson said. "We got him bedded down straightaway and he got a good night's rest."
The horse walked the shedrow at 8 a.m. May 7.
"He was out for about 25 minutes to get familiar with the surroundings," Sisterson said. "His ears were pricked and he was happy."
Goldencents is expected to return to the track for a jog on May 9, resume galloping May 10, and have a timed workout the morning of May 13.
Sisterson said the O'Neill operation was comfortable at Pimlico.
"We love it here," he said. "We've got great memories so we don't plan to change that."
Jockey Kevin Krigger is a member of Team O'Neill at Pimlico. The 29-year-old native of St. Croix has ridden Goldencents in all seven of his starts and will be aboard in the Preakness. He will be the first African-American rider to compete in the Preakness since Wayne Barnett in 1985.
Krigger accepted an invitation to remain with the colt between the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He will exercise Goldencents and other O'Neill-trained runners in Maryland and ride them in the races at Pimlico.
"This horse is our bread and our butter, our best horse," Krigger said. "The day I was leaving to go back to California on Monday, my agent phoned me and said 'Doug would like you to stay and get on the horse.' This is something I've always wanted to do, gallop him every day. It wasn't a hard decision for me to make."
Krigger said he understands that he could lose some business with trainers who regularly give him mounts in California and is willing to make that gamble.
"If we get it done, I don't see where that should be a negative impact," Krigger said. "I'm going to give him my best to get it done. If we get it done, just me staying here and winning it should erase the fact that I stayed."
Krigger has ridden in a number of states during his career and laughed as he recalled how he failed to get an agent when looking into riding on the Maryland circuit a few years ago.
"I tried coming here when I went to Golden Gate Fields," Krigger said. "I contacted a few agents and they said, 'Nah, don't worry about it.' So I didn't."